The final two stages of the quite incredible Tour du Mont Blanc were the two shortest days I walked. I could have fitted them into one day but had deliberately left a buffer in case things hadn’t gone to plan on the trip. Thankfully they did, with near perfect weather and my body holding up, and the bonus was a night at Refuge Flegere, from which Mont Blanc could be clearly seen right across the valley.
I could see Mont Blanc from where I started the day, at the lovely Gîte d’Alpage Les Ecuries de la Charamillon, located slightly randomly half way up a ski field.
From here it was an easy walk downhill to Le Tour, and then through the woods, past these cool carvings, to Tre-le-Champ.
From here the hills returned, with around 1,250m of ascent today, a relatively light day, though still a fair amount in 4 & 1/2 hours of walking. The views gained though were well worth the effort, a huge panorama down the valley.
Aiguillette d’Argentiere is a distinctive rock formation, in an area popular with rock climbers.
A bit of easy climbing was required on the track, with a number of ladders to tackle.
The next surprise, which I appreciated more than the ladders, was the appearance of alpine lakes, fairly common in New Zealand, but I’d not really seen any on the Tour so far. These made up for it though, particularly the double lakes with Mont Blanc in the distance, stunning.
I’d planned on having lunch at Refuge Lac Blanc but annoyingly it was shut (licensing issues apparently), so I took a quick look at this more unusual lake before heading back downhill toward Flegere.
Here there is a cable car station, cafe and restaurant, below which is the historic feeling (lots of wood, felt a bit of a fire hazard) Refuge Flegere, home for the night at 1,875m.
The next day I had my final climb up to the 2,526m Le Brevent for final epic views of Mont Blanc and the surrounding Alps.
The start was great heading along a relatively flat track to Plan Praz, with valley views as the sun rose over the mountains.
From there it got significantly harder with a ~650m climb, up to the Col, then Le Brevent itself, including a steep section with ladders.
I was quite disappointed after this effort to come out at the top to find a road to Le Brevent from Plan Praz…
And while the views from Le Brevent were impressive, they weren’t anything new to what I’d already seen on the Tour. There is a cable car station there but it wasn’t working so I headed down the road to Plan Praz at 2,000m, where there was a working cable car to return me to Chamonix after eight days on the Tour.
The official track continues steeply down from Le Brevent around 1,500m to Les Houches, described by the Tour guidebook as one of the steepest and most tiring descents of the whole Tour. After walking 167km without injury or using any mode of transport other than my legs I thought I’d treat myself to a cable car ride and an intact pairs of knees and ankles.
One of the more unusual sights from the TMB, a couple of people on top of the Le Brevent cable car, presumably maintenance workers with a good sense for heights!
To end with Mont Blanc bathed in sunrise the following morning from my accommodation in Chamonix before heading home.